If you are arrested for driving under the influence, please contact an experienced DUI lawyer in your area. A competent DUI lawyer will evaluate your case’s facts and advise you how your state’s law applies.
When you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI), the prosecutor must prove the offense beyond reasonable doubt. Otherwise, you will be acquitted.
The article offers an explanation of what the prosecutor has to say in order to obtain a DUI conviction. The state-specific differences aren’t discussed herein. For more accurate information about the DUI laws in your state, check the state website.
Elements of a DUI charge:
In general, the prosecutor needs to prove two things to a jury to find you guilty of a DUI crime. The prosecutor needs to prove you have been: driving or running a car, and under the influence.
Some states also allow the plaintiff to show that the defendant was driving on a public road instead of a private one.
If these facts can be proven beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecutor, chances are the jury will convict the defendant.
1. The “Driving” Element
In certain states, you’ll get a DUI even though you weren’t actually driving. Although most states that don’t involve actual driving often call the crime “driving under influence” (DUI) or “driving while intoxicated” (DWI), authorities in these states can prove the “driving” aspect by showing a vehicle to be “operating” or “in actual physical control.” In other words, demonstrating the driver’s presence with the vehicle in motion is important, but not necessary.
State laws differ on exactly what it means to drive a vehicle or to be in actual charge of one. Usually, however, the judge or jury that determines the case must weigh a number of factors when determining if the prosecution has proven the item.
Such considerations are generally based on police findings at the scene of the arrest of the defendant and may include whether:
- The defendant was sleeping or awake.
- The defendant was in the driver’s seat.
- The car keys were in the hands of the defendant.
- The car’s engine was on, and
- The defendant’s car was parked in a manner that posed a danger to other drivers.
However, for a DUI conviction, some states need evidence of actual driving. In California, for example, a defendant will only be found guilty of a DUI if the prosecutor proves “voluntary vehicle movement.”
To prove that a driver was under the influence, the prosecutor normally has two options:
- Proving that the driver has a blood or breath alcohol content of 0.08%.
- Proving that the driver was substantially affected by drugs or alcohol.
It’s typically easier to prove BAC than it is to display disability. However, in a DUI case, it is normal for prosecutors to bring two charges — one based on disability, and a second alleging unlawful BAC. The prosecutor will increase their odds of obtaining a conviction by filing two charges, though maybe only one will stick.
2. The “Public Roadway” Element
Many state laws prohibit driving under alcohol anywhere in the state. In those places, you can get a DUI irrespective of where you were driving. However, in other states drunk driving is only prohibited in “open to the general public” areas. Places available to the public include not only public property such as city streets and state highways, but also private properties such as parking lots for shopping malls.
- Under the Influence of Alcohol
There are usually two ways in which the prosecutor can prove you have been driving under the influence. The first is by measuring the alcohol level in the blood (BAC) which is the type we are most aware of. “What were you blowing?” If they retell their DUI story, it’s always the first thing someone asks. Many states have a BAC level, which is “under the influence per se,” meaning the BAC at which the state has determined that you are automatically considered to be under the influence without the need for further proof.
But, in any case where the BAC of the accused is tested, the test’s reliability is a concern. The state still has to show that the check is accurate enough for the judge or jury to use it against you.
That you are under the influence of alcohol can also be proven by someone else’s testimony. A policeman will testify to the way you were driving. For example, if you’ve been swerving in and out of lanes, over the yellow centre line, or driving erratically, you can bet the state will make the officer testify about that. Remember, if you’ve done some field sobriety check, the officer’s going to testify to how you did.
Anything about your contact with the defendant, whether he is an officer or not, that the prosecutor wants to call to the stand is a fair game. Yet your evidence can also be questioned by cross-examination or through your own witnesses.
4. Talk to a DUI Attorney
Speak to a DUI defense attorney Washington, DC. The effects of a DUI conviction are severe, and the laws on DUI differ according to state. If you are arrested for driving under the influence, please contact an experienced DUI lawyer in your area. A competent DUI lawyer will evaluate your case’s facts and advise you how your state’s law applies.
A Criminal conviction has plenty of repercussions for it. For that reason alone, you can hire a Criminal Defence attorney Washington, DC to represent your interests. If you are facing a DUI charge in DC or Maryland, please contact a DC DUI lawyer without hesitation.